Demare wins stage 2 of Criterium; De Gendt retains the lead

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ARLANC, France — French cyclist Arnaud Demare beat Alexander Kristoff in a sprint to the line to win the second stage of the Criterium du Dauphine on Monday.

Belgian rider Thomas De Gendt, the winner of the first stage, retained the overall lead.

Stage two, which was a flat route of 171 kilometers (106 miles) from Saint-Chamond to Arlanc, featured a long final straight of 4 1/2 kilometers (three miles). Demare comfortably held off Kristoff, from Norway, with Nacer Bouhanni of France third.

“It’s a big satisfaction to win at the Dauphine,” Demare said. “It’s preparation for the Tour de France so it’s a good sign.”

Defending champion Chris Froome, who is bidding to win the race for the fourth time, placed safely in the main pack. The British rider is a little more than one minute behind De Gendt overall.

The third stage on Tuesday is another flat one favoring sprinters, taking riders over 184 kilometers (114 miles) from Le Chambon-sur-Lignon to Tullins.

The race ends on Sunday.

Froome finishes 10th in Ruta del Sol, Wellens wins

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MADRID (AP) Chris Froome finished Spain’s Ruta del Sol race in 10th place behind winner Tim Wellens on Sunday.

The five-stage race in southern Spain was Froome’s first event since the four-time Tour de France winner was found to have failed a doping test at last year’s Spanish Vuelta.

Froome, who denies any wrongdoing, has been ordered to explain to the International Cycling Union why a urine sample he provided at the Spanish Vuelta in September showed a concentration of the asthma drug salbutamol at twice the permitted level.

Wellens, a Belgian rider for Lotto-Soudal, defended his lead over the final day’s time trial.

Wout Poels, of Froome’s Sky Team, was second at eight seconds behind.

Froome, who won the event in 2015, finished 1 minute, 57 seconds behind. He started the time trial on the final day in 14th after a puncture toward the end of Saturday’s fourth stage.

Froome returns to racing despite doping investigation

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MALAGA, Spain (AP) Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome is returning to racing on Wednesday despite being under investigation by cycling’s world governing body for failing a doping test.

Froome is participating in the five-day Ruta del Sol in southern Spain, an event he won in 2015.

“I know I have done nothing wrong, that’s my starting point,” Froome said. “There is a process in place for me to be up to demonstrate that, and that’s obviously what I intend to do.”

Froome has been ordered to explain to the International Cycling Union why a urine sample he provided at the Spanish Vuelta in September showed a concentration of the asthma drug salbutamol at twice the permitted level.

He said he has received a lot of support from other riders so far, and that he is trying to solve the issue as fast as possible.

“I do believe that when all the facts are out there I think people will see it from my point of view,” Froome said.

If found guilty of doping, the British rider could lose his Vuelta title and be suspended for a long period.